Philippines on a G-string travel blog

Bird sanctuary on Olongo Island. Didn’t see many birds ….

Except for this rescued Blue Crested Rufus in a tree by the...

Vertigo atop the 40-storey Crown Royal Hotel, where the Edge Coaster tilts...

More edge coaster views. Good thing I didn't drop the camera

There it is, attended by a smiling attendant

Happy vendors at Cebu’s famously colorful and raucous Carbon Market

Spicy red labuyo peppers highlight this veggie plate at the carbon market....

Veggies at the Carbon Market

The Casa Gorordo museum, an old ancestral home, is one of the...

A girl getting pious at Cebu’s holiest of holy churches, Santo Nino...

A statue of sculpted Chief Lapu Lapu, slayer of Ferdinand Magellan on...

Bantayan does have a blindingly white beach going for it

A shanty town on an island (Shanty Island) off Bantayan town

Not sure if these Bantayan kids were trying to look pregnant or...

Caught a humdinger of a sunset in Malapascua.

This shot’s better

This is the view from the Balcony of one of the cottages...

And this is Logon’s private beach, just below said balcony.

My first mission on this trip had nothing to do with the Lonely Planet job. I was assigned to do an article on Mactan Island by Interval World magazine (Interval is a timeshare association with something like 1 million members). They have a property in Mactan. Unfortunately, there isn’t much going on in Mactan besides diving and a few exclusive, all-inclusive resorts where people sequester themselves for a few days of pampering. Those were off limits, as they competed with Interval’s property on Mactan. The most eventful part of this research was taking a spin on the “Edge Coaster” in Cebu. In this ride you jump into a sideways-moving roller-coaster car and inch along the edge of the 40-storey Crown Regency Hotel’s roof. Sounds tame enough, except for that your car is tilted at a 45-degree angle so that you hang out over the roof – looking straight down. A few days after I did it I got an email from a friend with this subject line: “can I see a show of hands - who would trust such a thrill ride in the Philippines? let your kids go on it? anyone??” Been there done that, dawg. Actually I didn’t find it all that scary – I used to be somewhat scared of heights but suppose I am less so after living on the 42nd floor of One Rolex Triangle for 4 years. I even mustered the courage to pull the lever that tilts you to 55 degrees. I’ve posted a couple photos but there are better ones here:

After getting comped (by Interval) my first night in Mactan, I moved to Kukuk’s Nest, which is by far the best budget hotel in Cebu City. More like a guesthouse, really, but with an active restobar, and paintings drawn by the artist-owner hanging everywhere. The “ordinary” rooms (one with shared bathroom and no air-con) were only 300 pesos ($6). Yeah they’re rote basic but so are virtually all “ordinary” rooms, which in Cebu tend to cost more and lack the funk factor of Kukkuk’s. Once I was in Kukkuk’s Nest, the LP part of the trip had officially begun, although I continued to research Cebu City for Interval, since Mactan Island certainly didn’t have enough sites to fit the top-10 format they were looking for (Cebu City itself barely has enough to round out the top 10, for that matter, although DOMs [dirty old men] sure find plenty of reason to like it).

For independent travelers, Cebu City is generally regarded as nothing more than a transit hub. But Cebu Island – the island on which Cebu City sits - has a few pearls. Malapascua, where I’d been before, is one of them. Bantayan, where I had never been, was supposedly another. I researched both before flying back to Boracay to meet Karin & Anna, who were coming in from Cambodia for our annual birthday bash on Boracay. The verdict on Bantayan? Ok. Not quite the paradise I was expecting, and just as boring as I expected (this is a place for hang-and-do-nothing types, which explains why I’ve never been there). And it has the most aggressive touts in the Philippines, a country that is not known for aggressive touts. Nice white beach, though. And there are a couple of chill resorts worth staying at.

The Boracay trip was for play, not work. The work part of the trip would resume in a week, when I’d go over land/sea from Manila to Dumaguete via Puerto Galera, Boracay (for a Frisbee tournament and for work this time), Iloilo, Bacolod and Sipalay.

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